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5 thoughts: Mavericks close out Thunder in Game 6, advance to Western Conference finals

The victory sends Dallas to the Western Conference finals for the sixth time in the franchise’s 44-season history and the second time in coach Jason Kidd’s three seasons.

Five thoughts from the Dallas Mavericks’ 117-116 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Saturday night’s Game 6 in American Airlines Center.

On to Western Conference finals

Saturday’s victory sends Dallas to the Western Conference finals for the sixth time in the franchise’s 44-season history and the second time in coach Jason Kidd’s three seasons.

Dallas’ previous conference finals berths occurred in 1988, 2003, 2006, 2011 and 2022. This is the Mavericks’ shortest span between berths and Kidd is the only coach to guide Dallas to multiple conference title series.


John MacLeod (1988), Don Nelson (2003), Avery Johnson (2006) and Rick Carlisle coached the other conference finals runs, the latter all the way to the NBA title. Kidd was the point guard of the championship team, so he’s been part of half of Dallas’ conference finals berths.


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Matchup set

Dallas’ conference finals opponent will be Minnesota, which eliminated the defending champion Nuggets in a decisive Game 7 Sunday night.


The Mavericks have only met Minnesota once in the playoffs. In the first round of the 2002 postseason, Dallas defeated the Kevin Garnett-led Timberwolves 3-0 in a best-of-five series.

Dallas and Denver have twice met in the postseason, with the teams splitting the meetings that were more than two decades apart. Dallas beat Denver 4-2 in the second round in 1988; and the Nuggets prevailed 4-1 in the second round of the 2009 playoffs.


Raining threes

In the regular season, Oklahoma City was the NBA’s most efficient 3-point shooting team, at 38.9%. But entering Game 6 the Thunder had shot, in order, 45.7%, 33.3%, 33.3%, 26% and 25% for an aggregate of 32.7%.

“We want to be a team that puts pressure on the rim,” OKC coach Mark Daigneault said. “This particular team has chosen to park their bigs back there, to try to negate that. But you can’t take everything away.

“So, it’s our job to try to explore possessions and try to explore the opponent, and take the best shot that’s available in a given possession. ... Sometimes it’s an open three.”

Seemingly due, OKC made 10-of-24 3-point attempts in Game 6′s first half alone. The matched or exceeded its total output in four of the first five games.

In the second half, the Mavericks limited the Thunder to 5-of-17 3-point shooting (29.4%) while outscoring OKC 69-52 in the second half and overcoming a 17-point deficit to clinch the series and march into the Western Conference finals.

Who’s better?

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault admitted before Game 6: “I think they’ve outplayed us to this point in the series. I think that’s marginal, it’s not necessarily loud. They’re up three to two. But I think that’s reflective of the team that’s played better so far.’

The marginal part obviously is a matter of opinion. In Game 4 the Mavericks led for 44:41 of the 48 minutes. In Game 5, Dallas led for 41:07 of the 48 minutes.


In Game 6 Oklahoma led for most of the night, with Dallas not taking its first lead until 42-40 late in the first half. The Mavericks trailed 64-48 at halftime, fell behind by as much as 77-60 and spent the rest of the night furiously rallying.

Aggregate points scored in the six-game series: Dallas 636, OKC 636, but after the Thunder’s 22-point Game 1 win the Mavericks largely dominated the series. In fact, had they not blown a 14-point lead and lost Game 4 at home, the series could well have been over in five games.

Turnover City

The Mavs averaged 12.5 turnovers this season, fourth-lowest average in the NBA, but in the first half of Game 6 alone they had 11 turnovers, leading to 23 OKC points. Needing a nearly flawless second half to overcome a 17-point deficit, the Mavericks committed six turnovers while shooting 51.1% from the field and 11-of-21 (52.4%) from 3-point range.

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